Any rescues out there who take dogs with aggressive behavior issues?
I have a foster, a 3 year old chihuahua mix, who I’m not comfortable adopting out in his current condition. He is loving with people he lives with, but has exhibited fear aggression towards strangers. His behavior has turned into more of a defensive, possibly offensive, aggression. He will charge at, and attack with no warning, if a stranger is in his home. His anxiety is evident, and there’s no calming him down when he gets into “stranger danger” mode. He’s a neurotic mess.
I fostered him for a few weeks and then he stayed with someone else while I was out of town, and they wanted to continue fostering him. (He’s super sweet if he lives with you!) He was doing great with them but had a couple of with incidents with visitors, so they need to return him to me. They have grandkids and don’t trust him with them, or anyone who doesn’t live in the home. When I went to get him, it was like he’d never met me, and I couldn’t even take his leash. I don’t have the best means to deal with his issues, mostly because I live in a condo and have to walk him, which is not easy and is very stressful on him. The other foster offered to keep him one more week, to give us time to come up with a plan.
I feel that it is too risky to adopt him out in his current condition, and it’s going to be hard to adopt a dog out that they can’t even pet upon meeting. And I cannot take him to adoption events. I also have concerns because he has bitten and latched on, and has also bitten as someone is walking away from him. I’ve spoken with a colleague who is a behaviorist, and aside from euthanasia, he needs behavior rehabilitation and probably medication. Euthanasia is often times the best option for the well-being of the animal (he’s not mentally healthy) and the public. The rescue group he’s with wants to try medication first, but I think he needs more than that. And I don’t feel comfortable bringing him back into my home.
I’m at a lost and want to do what’s best for this guy! Any help or advice is greatly appreciated.
I know you must be very conflicted by this situation and you have my sympathy and my respect for trying to make the best and most responsible decision. Personally, I have never believed in euthanasia for behavior issues. I had one similar - wore a harness his whole life bc acted like you were killing him if tried to take it off and I took some major bites -- but we got to where we understood each other and I loved him for him. It sounds like this behavior is so inconsistent and I don't see any reference to medical issues. Has he been checked for anything that might medically explain it...brain tumor, vision issues that might cause him to perceive things wrongly, hormonal imbalance...? I agree you can't adopt out and probably not even foster given current situation. Can you send to "boot camp" with a behaviorist? I'm in GA and the UGA Vet School here has a very comprehensive behavior program. It's counter-intuitive but sometimes those programs actually want the worst cases. Anything similar near you maybe? Possibly inquire with Best Friends about their sanctuary in Utah? I don't doubt that you are doing your best for him but it seems that we as humans miss things when we are invested in a situation and maybe "fresh eyes" can find and correct whatever the little fella's trigger is. Best of luck to you both. <3
We are reaching out to transport rescue partners for help. I want euthanasia to be the last result, of course, but i just hate that he’s suffering mentally. He has like a panic attack when he sees someone new, and there’s no calming him. The only vet he has seen so far is the vet at the shelter, but a more comprehensive exam is good idea. My immediate issue is not knowing if he will be ok in my home again. I’m having the other foster bring him to me, instead of me going to her house. Hopefully he will remember our surroundings and my dog. But he torments my poor cats, and they’re a trigger for him as well!
Thank you so much for your feedback!
I agree with @SilverCometAWA. An urgent first need is a thorough medical exam with complete bloodwork & so on to see if there is an organic reason for this behavior. Chi's/mixes are feisty creatures & protective when "normal" so I would hold back on declaring him neurotic until further info about him is acquired. If he turns out clean physically, then a behavior program such as mentioned above (with or without pharma supplementation) would be the way to go. Good luck, and please post a picture of him here when you can.